The Duchess by Bertrice Small

The Duchess by Bertrice Small
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In this lush new novel, Bertrice Small has created a moving story of consuming passion and undeniable love set against the noble splendor of Georgian England. . . .

As the daughter of the richest man in England, Allegra Morgan attracts a number of fortune hunters willing to overlook her flawed pedigree to gain her enormous wealth. Her most ardent suitor is the arrogant but impoverished Quinton Hunter, duke of Sedgwick, who has little to offer a prospective wife except his grand title. Allegra decides that if she must marry, she might as well be a duchess. So she agrees to the match with one condition: her husband must never ask for her love. She has seen the misery love can cause and has vowed to give her heart to no man–especially a dangerously alluring duke.

Quinton is dazzled by his new wife’s grace and fortitude, as well as the fierce desire that rages between them. Despite his best intentions, he finds himself falling in love with her. Then the terrors of the French Revolution hit close to home, and the two of them set off on a treacherous adventure that could cost them everything . . . including their final chance at happiness.

She’s a spitfire and he’s penniless, but he’s got a title…it shouldn’t work, but it does.

I’ve not read any other works by Bertrice Small, so this was a new one for me. I’m glad I took the recommendation and chose this book. Allegra is full of fire and Quinton is hot. I liked the pairing between them because she’s not holding punches and he’s not about to fall in love. It’s a good stab at the ‘we won’t fall in love’ trope. The writing wasn’t as flowing as I’d have liked, but once I got into the story, I was hooked.

There were a few times when I had to put this one down. There are some vivid descriptions which are fantastic – the fabrics, the furnishings…wonderful. Then there were some that were a tad odd – her thick black eyebrows. It took me out of the story. I could see the characters but would’ve liked to have left that bit to the imagination, especially since it was something he thought was so attractive. Maybe it was me looking at the story through twenty-first century eyes, but it was odd.

Still, this was a good book and one I’d recommend if you’re wanting to get into the meatier books from the romance genre. This is one to learn from in terms of descriptions, pacing and unfolding of the story. There were times I didn’t like Allegra, but I respected her. That’s huge.

If you’re looking for a story that’s meaty, sweeping and old-school, then this might be the one for you.

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